Director: Kishor B
Cast: Sharwanand, Priyanka Arul Mohan
Sreekaram is one of those films where a messiah from a city comes to the village and solves the issues of farmers. Karthik (Sharwanand) is the messiah here. The first time we see him is when he comes back home to his village on a bus. He is sitting on its top and enjoying the view, because he is here for four days of fun and relaxation with his friends and family. The theme of the film is that when doctors’ children become doctors and the children of CAs become CAs, children of farmers become people like Karthik who go away to cities for work and come back to their villages only for festivals and funerals.
Sreekaram reminded me of Swades, for obvious reasons: an NRI, played by Shah Rukh Khan, was the messiah. But his character development was incremental in Swades, starting with skepticism at first before being moved by what he sees. He uses techniques he has learnt at NASA to help his village. I would have liked it if Karthik had gone to study agriculture. Or even if he had gone abroad, I would have liked him to have achieved something there and come back with a lot of knowledge.
But Karthik turns out to be a superman right from the beginning. He completes projects that his boss gives him in five minutes. When his boss is about to fire a friend he manages to convince the boss by lecturing him that the friend had legitimate reasons for doing what he did. He becomes employee of the year and the manager of a US branch (or something like that). He only needs to give an evil money lender in his village one lecture before he turns into a good man. With such a character at the center — a superman — there is no drama or suspense in a film. Karthik is such a good-hearted person with no doubts at all.
But Swades, even with its melodrama, is a relatively more realistic film. A movie like that cannot be made in mainstream industries like Tamil and Telugu. But at the other extreme, Sreekaram is a basic, generic melodrama with a layer of ‘farming’ on top. The villain is one-dimensional and the silly heroine is one-dimensional too. The songs and fights add absolutely nothing.
We get unconvincing developments like Karthik’s colleagues leaving their jobs and coming to help him farm in his village. He gives one lecture to a college and everyone is convinced that farming is a great career option. There’s a big leap from thinking about these things and implementing them. The film never makes the leap convincingly.
What we are left with is this broad, generic melodrama that says a superman can achieve anything. But towards the end, we are shown a whole bunch of people who did in reality exactly what Karthik is supposed to have done in the film. I am sure most of their journeys were filled with difficulty and self-doubt, and would have made a far better film than this one.